The Kangwon Land casino in South Korea was able to breathe a sign of relief when, after being closed for almost three months, it was finally able to get back to work. Revenue for the second quarter of the year had dropped more than 91% compared to the same quarter last year and, even though it was only welcoming back VIP customers, it was a step toward recovery. That forward momentum has now come to an abrupt stop, though, as South Korea is witnessing a resurgence of COVID-19. As a result, the only casino in the country that can accept locals has been forced to shut down once again.
Across a nine-day period ending this past Saturday, South Korea saw 2,200 new coronavirus cases – 300 this past Saturday alone. This has health officials scrambling and reiterating policies designed to prevent the spread of the virus, expanding its “Level 2” protocols to areas beyond the limits of the country’s capital, Seoul. Level 2 includes social distancing measures and a ban on indoor gatherings of 50 people or more. Outdoor events with 100 or more attendees are also prohibited, and any facility that is deemed to be susceptible to a high rate of infection must remain closed.
Kangwon Land Inc., which owns the casino, shut down the venue’s operations on Friday in consideration of the Level 2 status. It intends on keeping the doors locked until at least 6 AM on August 29, but that could change, depending on guidance provided by South Korean health officials. As a result of the new stoppage, Kangwon Land anticipates incurring revenue losses of around $6.3 million, a figure that is based on the daily sales average across the first half of the year.
After Kangwon Land took its first step in the recovery process in May, it had slowly been moving forward. It began by allowing just 750 people to visit on any given day and had increased this number to 1,800 by the middle of this month. Even at that level, the casino was still only recording about 25% of its full capacity, with hopes of being able to make a huge leap forward in the very near future.
Also contributing to the casino’s closure was the revelation that a guest who had recently stayed at the property’s Palace Hotel and tested positive for COVID-19. Kangwon Land made the admission this past Saturday, adding that the unnamed individual had been at the venue for around three hours or so on August 18, but didn’t have contact with any other guest. As a result of the positive test, the casino took appropriate measures, completing a massive cleaning and disinfection of the areas where the guest had been.